The Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday barred MTN Nigeria Communications Limited from moving any funds from all banks in Nigeria abroad pending hearing of its suit challenging the N1.4trillion fine imposed on it by the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).
Justice Mohammed Idris ordered parties to maintain status quo.
“An order is hereby made directing the parties cited herein to maintain the status quo ante bellum pending further hearing,” the judge said.
In law, it refers to a temporary restraining in which a situation is restored to “the state in which it previously” existed.
The Federal Government had, through a motion ex-parte, sought an order of mareva injunction restraining the 21 commercial banks from releasing any funds belonging to MTN.
It sought “an order of mareva injunction restraining the aforementioned banks from releasing, further releasing any funds, making sale, transfer or payment of any monies or dealing in any manner whatsoever with any and all monies maintained by the plaintiff/respondent (MTN) or its agents, privies, subsidiaries, sister companies or the like in the aforestated banks that will alter, decline or reduce the amount of the first defendant’s/applicant’s fine against the plaintiff/respondent in the sum of N1,040,000,000,000 which has remained wholly unsatisfied, pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
MTN is urging the court to quash the sanction imposed on it by NCC in October last year for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.
The initial fine of $5.2billion was reduced by 25 per cent to $3.9billion last December.
But MTN sued NCC and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), contending that NCC being a regulator cannot assume all the functions of the state.